This poor creature the “ex rental car (ERC)” is the quintessential poor redheaded stepchild of the auto retail industry; a plague to be avoided at all cost, say the masses. I want to challenge you to rethink this much maligned entity before you toss this option completely out the window. Buying any used car has its risks; yet the financial benefits of an ERC are significant. There are three major classes for used cars (Privately owned, Ex-lease, Ex- rent)
Private ownership (as a rule the most expensive of the three) Everyone wants to buy a used car that was owned by a private individual; preferably an elderly woman who only drove it to the grocery and back once a week. It is assumed that privately owned cars have been taken care of and experience more TLC and generally this is the case, even in this class of car there are questions. Are there any young family members in the family who occasionally drive the car? Do you really know the driving habits of the adult principle drivers? Was it serviced regularly? Automobile servicing is not so convenient here in Israel. There is not a Jiffy Lube in every small town like in the west, so this sometimes gets overlooked or put off.
Ex lease cars (considered less expensive than private owned but more expensive than ex rental) This is generally the second requested group of vehicles considered safe for purchase. Most people are aware that private ownership cars are hard to find and can be more expensive, therefore the acquiescence to purchase ex lease cars. Here too there are considerations, not everything is as it may seem.
Here is an unsolicited excerpt from an email sent me by Shelly, from the Shomron area, and I think sums it all up very succinctly. “I once went on a tiyul with a group of friends, all Israeli, and was shocked at where we were driving in our non 4×4 cars – then someone explained it was because the rest of them were all driving work cars (lease) so they weren’t worried about the wear and tear”.
This is not to say this is the case with all persons who have this type of employment benefit; but it’s not hard to see how this can be the viewpoint of some. On the plus side lease cars are serviced regularly and repairs are made promptly. This is because there are no costs or inconveniences to the driver. In fact some view this as an advantage over a privately owned vehicle.
Ex rental cars ERC (least expensive of the three groups) First the remainder of the Shelly’s email for she addresses this type of car too. “On the other hand most are more careful with rentals because if anything happens you’re liable and most rental places check very carefully when cars are returned”. I could not have said it better.
Is this not how most persons approach renting a car? The rental company has your credit card and explains to you upfront you will be responsible for any and all damage caused to the car. Personally when I return a rental I sit anxiously while the young man/woman goes to check the condition of the auto hoping that there is not some problem with the car that I was not aware of. Yes there will be persons who want to see how fast the rental car accelerates and how quickly it stops, but this happens with lease cars and private cars too. Any vehicle when driven by persons who are not ultimately financially responsible can be subjected to abuse. While this type of occasional handling is not optimal, it does not necessarily indicate the car have been to hell and back.
As for scheduled maintenance and repairs again the ERC has a slight advantage over its privately owned and lease cousins. A car in a rental fleet is a company asset and as such is well taken care of. Computer programs track the cars as they come in and go out from rent and flag all needed service before next rental contract.
If the car is not functional it cannot generate profit for the company. If the car breaks down under contract the company must retrieve the car deliver another in its stead and repair the broken one. This is costly and time consuming. Good maintenance and servicing reduces the chances of this scenario.
So here is the bottom line. It can be well worth your time to include instead of exclude the ERC into your list of options. All used cars should be thoroughly checked out by competent mechanics before purchase. Since the ERC is generally less in cost, you may be able to drive a newer model or a more featured car for the same money as buying a private or ex lease. Consider your options there are some very good deals to be had with ERC’s
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